The Ohio Bureau of Workers’ Compensation (BWC) has presented a plan to freeze next year’s average base premium rate for private employers at the current level. Pending approval from the BWC board of directors, the plan would extend $65 million in rate cuts enacted last year for Ohio’s private sector employers.
If approved, the plan would continue last year’s 4 percent average rate reduction for the 2013 policy year, which runs from July 1, 2012 to June 30, 2013. As always, actual premiums for employers will vary based on their individual claims experience and wider claims cost trends within industries and job classifications.
“This proposal is consistent with BWC’s goal of maintaining reasonable and stable rates, allowing businesses to better predict workers’ comp costs so they can focus on injury prevention and return-to-work,” said BWC Administrator and Chief Executive Officer Steve Buehrer.
BWC also recently submitted a workers’ compensation reform package to the state legislature aimed at returning injured workers to their jobs faster. According to Buehrer, BWC has spent the past year identifying areas for improvement, primarily related to improving declining return-to-work rates. Over the last 5 years, the number of injured workers with lost-time claims who have returned to work has dropped from 75 percent to below 69 percent, Buehrer said.
The reform package includes House Bill (HB) 516, which would streamline BWC processes; HB 517, which seeks better outcomes for injured workers; and HB 518, which would crack down on under-performing providers. The bills have been assigned to the House Insurance Committee.
“Governor John Kasich has asked us to find ways to make the system work better, and these reforms are reasonable steps to help address the most immediate problem of getting injured workers healthy and back to leading productive lives sooner,” said Buehrer. “The longer an injured worker goes without treatment, and the longer they remain off work, the less likely it is they will ever achieve total recovery.”